From the mountaintops of Hollywood, N.M., to the tobacco fields of Hollywood, Md., officials from 11 Hollywoods big, small, and smaller yet gathered here Tuesday in a so-called “Hollywood Summit.”
Their mission--besides getting a free trip to Florida--was to link arms in a legal battle against “that greedy Tinseltown” of the West Coast, which “wants the name Hollywood all to itself.”
The Chamber of Commerce for Los Angeles’ Hollywood has filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to gain exclusive use of the name for commercial purposes--on T-shirts, coffee mugs and the like.
That is not a popular proposal with the left-out Hollywoods. “I’d shoot any of them from California, they came through my town,” said Ross Dover, representative of the rural mountain hamlet of Hollywood, Ga.
His sentiments were not so different from those of folks from Hollywoods in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina and Texas.
Of course, as the day moved along--and group photos were taken for what seemed like the millionth time--the representatives decided instead to follow the less-violent lead of Hollywood, Fla., which is using a local law firm to challenge the trademark application.
No matter what happens, none of the various Hollywoods would have to give up its name, though they fear they might be restricted in marketing anything with the name Hollywood on it.
The Hollywood, Calif., Chamber denies that there would be any such restrictions--as long as the other Hollywoods’ mementos also include the name of the appropriate state. It issued a press release calling the protesting cities “misinformed, with minds set in concrete,” and pointed a finger at Hollywood, Fla., Mayor Mara Giulanti.
“We are not going to make them pay to use the name,” Chamber President Bill Welsh insisted. “We have tried time and again to tell that lady and other people down there . . . and we just can’t seem to get the point across.”
But though there may not be much money at stake, there’s plenty of principle, according to the Hollywood representatives who gathered here Tuesday.
“This whole thing is not only asinine, it’s un-American,” charged Chris Garrett of the Hollywood, Fla., Chamber of Commerce. “Hollywood, Calif., is just tinsel. They didn’t get that name for nothing. They earned it.”
Mayor B. K. Srinivas of Hollywood, Tex., said sarcastically, “Maybe I ought to just change my name to Smith and license that.”
Speculation romped. After all, where would it end? Would similar battles have to be fought among America’s many Springfields, Jeffersons and Independences? Could Rome, Ga., swallow up Rome, N.Y., and then go after Rome, Italy?
“If Hollywood, Calif., thinks its name is so great, why does it mind sharing it?” asked an angry Jack Ellis of Hollywood, La.
The Hollywood, Calif., Chamber of Commerce has been trying to get trademark status since 1986, insisting that revenues from the sale of souvenirs would be used for upkeep of the Hollywood sign and to touch up some fading stars among the more than 1,800 in the Walk of Fame.
That plan especially rankles oceanside Hollywood, Fla. (population 125,000), something of a tourist town itself--self-proclaimed “Dream City Come True"--halfway between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.
It has its own Chamber of Commerce, whose officers are not only spoiling for the fight but prepared to use the scrap for all the publicity it can muster.
The Chamber here, along with city officials, managed to get their Hollywood brethren free flights into town, free limousine service and free hotel rooms. All that--plus pictures with a guy in a 7-foot-tall egret costume.
Taking turns at a podium during a press conference, the representatives of the various Hollywoods looked like something Central Casting might have sent from the more famous Hollywood.
Bard Seldon from the Mississippi Delta is a huge and bearded man whose hometown has one store, which sells crickets for bait. “More people where I live have heard of Hollywood, Miss., than Hollywood, Calif.,” he said.
Ross Dover from rural Georgia had lost one arm in the Army and vowed he would fight this trademark battle to the end of his life and the last bean in his pocket. “If there’s any money to be made on the name Hollywood , it ought to go to little people instead of a bunch of movie stars,” he said.
Jack Ellis from Louisiana seemed a timid sort. He allowed that he had visited Hollywood, Calif., once: “Unfriendliest place I ever saw. Couldn’t get anyone to talk to you. Ask them a question and they just walked away.”
Thomas Riedlinger is from a middle-class Chicago suburb. His Hollywood, now a subdivision of the town of Brookfield, is the original and Hollywood, Calif., is named after the estate of a woman from there, his research shows. He read from a proclamation of his civic association: “Do not make the name of Hollywood synonomous with profit . . . pledge with us to make Hollywood stand for the simple, natural beauty which prompted our naming.”
Hollywood, Calif., was not unrepresented at the many microphones. Marian Gibbons of the preservationist group Hollywood Heritage said the actions of her Chamber of Commerce don’t reflect the community in general. “It’s just a moneymaking thing, and that’s not what Hollywood is all about.”
Later, after a closed-door strategy session, Gibbons remarked that she was stunned by all the animosity. “This is all being taken quite seriously, isn’t it?” she said.
But then it was time to head off to a reception. The aggrieved Hollywoods were having free cocktails and dinner.